There she was. Devastated. Rejected. Worn out and hopeless.
Her drug dealer boyfriend returned back to his ex-wife. She felt like she’d been sucker punched. It took her to her knees and she didn’t get up for weeks.
She cut class for weeks and faced the possibility of flunking out of college. During those weeks, she contemplated opening a book or showing up in class. She just never made it. She was in trouble but ignored the internal warnings.
Partying was the top priority.
Her coworkers and boss knew she drank too much and was high when she came to work. She denied it, lied about why she couldn’t get to work and eventually got fired. “I’ll just get another job, no big deal,” she thought to herself.
In those private, dark, humiliating and lonely moments she wondered, “What’s wrong with me? My life is falling apart and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if I can go on.”
She’d hit bottom. Rock Bottom.
That young woman was me, at 23 years of age. I was at a miserable crossroads. My body ached with the grief of rejection and my mind was jumbled up with conflicting thoughts and emotions. At times, I felt like I might be ripped apart with sorrow, anger, and fear. My shadowy soul suffered as I felt hollow and empty.
Yet, within my soul, I found hope the size of a mustard-seed; hoping for something better. I longed to be understood and accepted by others, I ached to connect with other people who were safe, strong and encouraging. Unlike my partying “friends” who were lost in their own pain and addiction.
Unbeknownst to me, my family was organizing an intervention. They were deeply concerned about me and afraid I would soon end up in the morgue. They found an Interventionist (someone who is professionally trained to help families get help) who walked us through the steps of getting help.
Gratefully, I am clean and sober today. I have 11,860 + day’s put together, one day at a time to add up to over 32 years.
I feel fully alive; connected to God, others and myself. Most days my mind is clear and I enjoy being present. I know my purpose and experience joy like never before.
Although life is good, it’s also messy. Becoming and staying healthy physically, mentally and spiritually is challenging. It’s called recovery.
Recovery is the process of returning to health, gaining back parts of life I lost or never even had. It’s learning how to feel without shutting down and how to sort through confusing thoughts. Recovery is about living without alcohol, drugs and other things that take me away from life and myself.
SO MUCH HOPE
Today, we are fortunate to have numerous resources available to help people with addiction and mental health issues! If you, or someone you know struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, pornography, gambling, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sex addiction, and other mental health issues; there is HOPE!
Here are three tips that can help you reach mental, physical and spiritual health.
1. Don’t do it alone
Secrets keep us sick! Shame (feeling less than or defective) is debilitating. Reaching out for help may be the biggest step you ever take. It’s also the most important. If you could get better by yourself, you would have already done so.
· Hire a therapist. Find a therapist who knows about your particular struggles. Click here for an article on how to choose a therapist.
· Join a group-Again; you need others to get better. It seems counterintuitive to reach out and tell other people about your most humiliating and devastating experiences. Miraculously, when you do so you realize you’re among others who relate AND accept you.
There are therapy groups, support groups and 12 step groups that focus on almost any subject. Check it out. Open a new tab on your web browser and search for your particular struggle and support groups near you. For example:
o Types of support groups for addictions
o Support groups for Christians
o Therapy groups for anxiety and depression-Online support groups
You can fine-tune your search to include your local resources. If you can’t find them, call your local mental health center and ask for recommendations. Remember, you can't do this alone.
2. Do the hard work
Recovery will probably be the most difficult AND rewarding thing you do! This is another reason why you need people in recovery around you. They help you keep your eyes on your long-term goal (a better life). They hold you accountable to do what you need to do AND they love up on you.
o 12 Step Meetings-In 12 step meetings, they help you do life. Each step is geared to healthy living. Each step builds upon one another to help you honestly look at your life, reach out for help, repair relationships and give back to others. The hard work is doing the steps. They are action-oriented steps, not just ideas or steps of theory.
Best of all, the meetings are free.
o Go to therapy, talk to people and seek advice. Eventually, life will become easier and more fun. Neither your problems nor life’s unexpected turns go away. If you do the hard work you will become equipped to deal with life that includes challenges and joys!
3. Don’t give up
Recovery is challenging! I can guarantee at some point you’ll want to give up. You’ll feel like nothing is working. You’ll wonder, why bother and want to return to your old coping mechanisms.
Even though you will repeatedly want to throw the towel in, don’t. However, if you fall down, give up, make a mistake or return to your old life; get back up.
Call someone. Reach out when you don’t want to keep going. When life feels overwhelming, gets painful and hopeless, call your therapist, and attend a meeting. Just don’t give up. Remember, you’re not alone and there are many people who have been through this before.
If you’re a person of faith or someone who has turned their life over to a Higher Power, you can rely on this relationship. Prayer and remembering that your Higher Power can return you to sanity is a saving grace when you need it the most.
Here I am many years later. Strong. Vulnerable. Filled with Joy and Humility.
My life is worth living. I’ve worked hard to stay married and love my husband. We’ve raised three beautifully strong and loving daughters (not without a lot of pain, agony, and uncertainty) and we now have four grandchildren.
The work that I do leaves a lasting impact on others. My work brings me joy and I contribute to the world in a positive way.
Life is full of joy, even in the midst of the unexpected. We’ve had a lot of loss in our family; two suicides, death of parents, illnesses, job uncertainties and many more life challenges. We keep going. Together.
Today when I feel overwhelmed, grief-filled, afraid or filled with shame; I have choices. I reach out to others for help, knowing I don’t have to do life alone. I return to therapy when I need an “adjustment” and attend a support group.
A life worth living is my priority today.
Your life is worth living too.
You don’t have to live a life overwhelmed with addiction or other mental health issues. You too, like so many before you can learn to cope with life’s challenges, fears, and uncertainties. I hope you join the ever-growing community of people who live in recovery!
For more information about Recovery, visit: